Can I use the phrase (new to me) holier-than-thou like

don't give holier-than-thou attitude.

And what is more possibilities of using this phrase? What is the correct pronunciation of the phrase?

P.S: English is not my first language.

  • 3
    You could look up all possibilities of usage at Wordnik. The pronunciation is available in any dictionary.
    – Bravo
    May 26, 2012 at 10:20
  • The pronunciation is that of the three words "holier" (i.e. "more holy"), "than", "thou", which you can look up in a dictionary.
    – Colin Fine
    May 26, 2012 at 11:22

1 Answer 1


Your sentence is missing an object and a demonstrative adjective. Who is the target of the holier-than-thou attitude? Which/how much attitude are you referring to?

You would need to add a couple of words such as:

Don't give me that holier than thou attitude.


Don't give your friend so much holier than thou attitude.

  • How to pronounce it? please
    – AbdulAziz
    May 26, 2012 at 11:15
  • 3
    The Macmillan Dictionary provides vocal pronuncations; just click on the bright red speaker icon. Or, try Forvo
    – J.R.
    May 26, 2012 at 12:09
  • @Joel, are you sure "that" is required here?
    – Pacerier
    Aug 22, 2020 at 21:03
  • @Pacerier technically, perhaps not, but I don't think that usage would be common. In practice, you need something else there to modify the phrase "holier than thou". You could say "Don't give me your..." instead of "Don't give me that..." but I don't think you would hear a native English speaker say simply "Don't give me holier than thou attitude." I can't point to a rule that says it would be wrong, but I can't think of a case when I've heard the expression used that way.
    – Joel Brown
    Aug 22, 2020 at 23:53

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